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If You’re Self- Conscious, then You’re Not the Least Conscious about Yourself

Inside each one of us there’s a centre, like the mid point of a circle, forming its core and giving it shape. This centre, is your essence, your true self, and believe it or not it’s the version which, when you best embrace, you feel your best. Continue reading “If You’re Self- Conscious, then You’re Not the Least Conscious about Yourself”

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On the Value of Contemplation

beach-394503_1920Nothing helped me get closer to where I want to be, after Dua, than practicing contemplation and reflecting upon my inner thinking. You talk and talk and talk about your aspirations and share your dreams with others, but nothing sharpens your thought like talking them over with yourself and contemplating them, as well as your surroundings.

Contemplation in general has this virtue of establishing the connection between your conscious and sub-conscious self, your thinking and your feeling, between you and yourself.

So this is where you first need to be; just at the centre of yourself.

There you can move freely and navigate through your soul, whether you’re primarily a thinker or generally a feeler.

Then comes contemplation over your thoughts and wishes, which helps you understand them more and take them a step further from being far fetched, to being a possibility and then a reality God willing!

You don’t achieve what you want unless you know what it is and really want it! Only then you head in the proper direction.

Contemplation makes you feel in control over yourself and more familiar with life.

Without contemplation you feel tangled in a maze of thoughts. Do contemplate so that you move from the stage of wanting, thinking and needing to that of achieving!

Let me share with you this inspirational thought by Harlem Toomer.

“Talk about it only enough to do it. Dream about it only enough to feel it. Think about it only enough to understand it. Contemplate it only enough to be it”

Do contemplate for the sake of yourself!

maha.

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My Take on the Current Political Turmoil in Egypt!

duality-1003292_640I know I must speak up, I know I am expected to speak up, and aware of my responsibility to speak up, being affiliated with “Islamic Awareness” and what relates to it. Well yes I feel the urge to share my standpoint, even though I don’t know how to put it in words. But I’ve also grown so weary of the ranting political jabbering that’s been going on for two years or more, and worse than ever over the past year, since a figure representing an Islam-affiliated  group came to power, and I wish not to echo the repeatedly used and largely erroneous term “Political Islam”, for indeed there’s nothing called or should be called political Islam …

Continue reading “My Take on the Current Political Turmoil in Egypt!”

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Inspirational Prayer

candle-471821_1280Praying is one activity telling you you’re alive. One that pours life into your life, connecting to your Creator, your Lord, asking of all that you want and need, and speaking your mind and heart out!  Here’s one prayer I have stumbled upon and have found very inspirational, regardless of the religion of its sayer, it’s an inspirational prayer to approach Almighty Allah…

Continue reading “Inspirational Prayer”

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On Being A Woman

How blessed I am to be a woman?!
This is how I feel and this is one feeling every woman should imbibe and nurture with love, gratitude, tenderness and contentment. Creating this sense of gratefulness and acceptance in yourself will help you embrace all merits granted to your gender as ordained by your creator, Almighty Allah. You were born to be a woman for a reason, for a purpose. Having this belief deeply rooted in your perception will foster a wise understanding of the role intended for you in this life, just for being a woman. Continue reading “On Being A Woman”

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Get up.. Feel Inspired

tea-381235_1920Tap into you conscious and sub-consious mind, also your heart, do you feel inspired?
“Yes” is a normal good answer to be followed by active measures in life towards what you seek to achieve.

“No”, then you’ve got to do something about it.. Don’t wait for an element of inspiration to lighten up before your eyes and invites you over. You create your own source of inspiration. Continue reading “Get up.. Feel Inspired”

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Avatar: The Movie of the Century

James Cameron’s epic carrying the name Avatar hit the world theaters exactly a month ago, stirring global controversy, liking, and fame like never did a movie before…

The movie, which took its director over 15 years of hard work and imagination, scoring over $27 million in its first day at the box office, is more than what its classification may render of limited interpretations. It’s more than a science fiction movie, action, or Drama, it’s a state of consciousness of many life aspects and, indeed, on many levels…

The fact that the events of the movie occur 15 years ahead, coupled with that its scenes are said to be taking place in some other planet or may be a virtual world named Pandora, it brilliantly distances you, for the three hours that are the course of the movie, from your current land- let it be whatever; the East or the West or whatever spot on our troubled planet, warming you up, partially as a viewer, and partially as an alley of your own pole of the world, to receive and adhere to what the movie’s core message carries of lessons and interpretations.

However, and despite of the reality that the movie does distance you, in its 3 D picturing, it links you to the heart of so many aspects of life and on many levels,  with varying extents of controversy, depending, largely, on your willingness to clinch the profound state of consciousness it’s meant to live you through.

Here I shall attempt to peal off the multi facets of of “Avatar” that are the mesmerizing make up of this great work… Bringing into focus the symbolic connotations running through every line of the script and every shot of the picturing, starting with the political facet, the religious, the spiritual, the controversial, the universal, facet, ending with the artistic value of the movie…

The heart of the movie’s controversiality is highlighted in the journey, with many stages and peaks going in the course of 3 months- mission of an Avatar to what’s referred to in the movie as “The Aliens’ World”, or the Pandora Planet, a spit between two warring worlds representing the split between human race among themselves on one hand, and between human race’ originality and modern life on the other- with all this split carries of lessons, ideologies uncovered, contagions inflicted, as well as untold facts about human nature and spiritual aptitude let alone geniuses and all this can do.

More or less, the classical Good Vs Bad theme is presented in a fascinating production that makes it more than a movie, but again, an echoing State of Consciousness…

  • Controversial Facet

The mainstay of Avatar’s controversy lies largely in the timing of its release … which fits it perfectly well with what the current U.S. Administration is striving to fix and achieve following the mass destruction caused by the previous leadership.

It also comes a few weeks following the new U.S. leader’s claiming of Noble Peace Prize, and all that brings forth of a new foreign policy aimed, hopefully, at restoring the Arabs and the Muslims’ trust in the American leadership, after the mayhem inflicted by the old Bastard.

The main theme adopted in Avatar is the Superpower Versus the Aliens/Barbarians/Hooligans, with this reflected into a unique presentation of ideologies, stereotyping and policies, which translate the way the Superpower looks down upon those of the third world, regrettably perceived as a group of thugs who do not deserve the natural wealth they posses, and in some cases rendering them as unworthy of living in the first place. Thus, according to the invaders, there’s every reason to annihilate them with whatever the human hand and mind has produced of destructive tools, let them be biological weapons, armories, or whatever.

The Superpower/Occupied clash is mirrored in the RDA Unit/Navi conflict presented in the movie…

OF course the RDA represents the modern humans on one level and the greedy superpowers on another, whereas, the Omaticayas, the Navi indigenous people, portrayed as Alien creatures with tails like animals, represent the original human race as pure as it was and as enlightened as it was on one level and the Occupied on another one.

The portrayal of the Navis as semi-human creatures, yet having tails greatly manifests the way the Modern Super Power looks down upon those it wishes to annihilate for their “barbarity”… Again the Stereotyping of Muslims/ Arabs and the thugs living the third world continents…

  • Political Facet

What might be shocking for some is the fact that the political implications of Avatar wasn’t what impressed me most, even though I was waiting for this layer to unfold the minute the movie started, as I went with a pre-hand knowledge that the movie carries a crucial political.

However I cannot sidestep that aspect without a well-deserved stop-over.

The epic boldly yet elegantly touched on the very controversial and obvious source of our modern days wars, or allow me to say the war of all wars. To be more direct, the raging and continuous war over land and interest between the West and the Arab World… Allow me to be more bitterly Straight Forward.. It’s the Superpowers’ War, the pretext of which is always upgraded and renewed, principally represented by the United States of America and the Muslim world.

Jake Sully, the hero around which revolves the story of the movie, is portrayed as a disabled war veteran, the Avatar of which is sent to Pandora Planet, to get its people, in three months mission, abandon their homeland, said to be lying on a massive secret mine of unobtanium … A case very much akin to the vicious war on Iraq.

Colonel Miles Quaritch, the head of the armed forces unit, sends the war veteran to collect intelligence on the magic spot on one hand and win the hearts and minds of the Pandora people as a way to get his target surrender to his desire without “bloodshed”.

Let me quote what Colonel Miles said in one very interesting conversation with Jake, upon the beginning of the latter’s mission at Pandora,

“Sully, I want you to learn this savages from the inside, I want you to gain their trust.”

Of course the “savages” here refers to what the fallen American Leader used to refer to the Arabs … A mimic of the U.S. policy, or to be more accurate, fair and precise, the policy of the previous Bush Administration.

When Pandora’s people refuse to surrender and the Colonel’s ridiculous plot to win their hearts and minds proves failure, he mobilizes his army to destroy the entirety of the planet to lay hands on its goods and acquire the most of it…

The presence of disabled War Veteran is justified perfectly well in Avatar and made best use of. I also guess it must be highly sensitive to the angry American society, who is still painfully regretful of the unnecessary war their previous leader dragged their legs into, leaving thousands of their people disabled, traumatized, thousands of more killed, for the American President to get hold of Iraq’s oil resources, instead of finding another source of energy to meet his people’s needs.

The very same sad sequence of Iraq war is being minatured …

But one very important fact that I need to point out here is that the work on Avatar, the movie, is supposedly to have commenced long before the war was launched, true… But this even makes things worse … It’s an expectation of the mighty superpower approach and ideology which had been accurately fulfilled.

And when you come to think of it, this had always been the attitude of Western superpowers, and I wish not to be so prejudice against the U.S. or the West in general… I condemn the attitude of their governments that had always been and are still cursed by their own people.

To lay hands over some country’s natural resources anything can be justified, and the mission starts with attempting to win the hearts and minds of its people, if they didn’t surrender, then armory is always there to do the job.

The U.S. War in Afghanistan, the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran in 1941, also for oil interest, and the Russians invasion of Afghanistan, and over and above, the longstanding Palestinian conflict in the Holy Lands, to name a few- Same old scenario repeating itself, now in Iraq and Palestine, and God only knows what the future hides….

And long before that.. an accurate look at the old seed of the American history, will find it based on land grab- the Americans’ Old Sin of laying hands on the lands of the Red Indians- the indigenous inhabitants of the land now carrying the name of the mighty United States of America.

  • Religious Facet

Religion stands as a central theme, much of a character, that had strong presence throughout the movie. It was present in Neytiri’s teachings to Jake all the way through his journey of “Knowing”.. in her people’s worshiping.. and their great appreciation of the Tree of Voices or the Holy tree where “prayers are heard and sometimes answered”, as said by Neytiri.

Religion had always been a central factor in the formation of nations throughout history, we have many examples along human history of wars and bloodshed, partially to liberate followers of certain religion or to impose another on some other nation.

When it comes to the religious implications offered in the movie, both worlds are concerned… Those of whatever religion in the West, and the Muslims, symbolically the inhabitants of Pandora’s world, and that through my own personal reading of the movie, with their original purity, goodness, brotherhood and other sorts of divine qualities and ethics that are part of our Deen as originally sent at the hands of the Prophets, and before we divide into different and sects and tribes, all based on interests and agendas- Also before the poison of contamination stains the hearts…

The original Muslims as they once were, and now strive to become.

  • Spiritual/Psychic Facet

Now comes the Spiritual Facet, the one that overwhelmed me most…

The portrayal of the indigenous people of Pandora as blue creatures, resembling to a great extent human beings, even if they bear none of the very fine looks we have yet possess a very clear and charismatic spirit, that allowed them, even with the least understood Navi language they used, penetrate the audience souls, and practically get them live their world of highly spiritual allure..

I became totally lost in Pandora’s world, living the emotions, challenges, and traditions lived by Neytiri, her people, Jake, and believing very much in each and every word spoken on their land of Truth and Sacredness…

It’s the world of our original being where, a disabled man like Jake, is empowered and gaining exceptional force to fight, win, and mobilize immense forces to beat the enemy. It’s in such state, when one becomes center, get hold over his truthfulness, when he becomes complete, empowered, and suddenly, as said by Jake, the two worlds are reversed, the modern, superpower world is the virtual life, while that on Pandora is the Real World, when man is empowered, able, and thus, claim the role meant for him and achieve it…

The movie offered an intrinsic portrayal of the best of human qualities displayed in a wonder world, symbolically, our original world.

Pandora’s atmosphere is understood to be toxic to normal humans, signifying modern human beings’ inability to go back to how they originally were. They cannot leave behind their burgers, jeans and coke to relive their far from luxurious originality. It also signifies the inability of the superpowers to leave behind their greed to live the mystic life of those they see as “Aliens”.

The classical love story between Jake and Neytiri- even though at first seemed classical: the normal love story that sprouts between a couple coming from two conflicting and contemptuous parties- it was most skillfully woven in the overall plot, inviting the viewer live each step of the emotional development between the two characters, starting with strong chemistry between the two, and evolving as a very unique type of love that, even when faced with challenges, threats, conflict of interests, and above all unfolding of treason, remained strong and faithful, winning the war at the end, and bringing the loving couple in one world, the world of truth.

Another level of spirituality unfolded in the movie is settling in a world that on the outest seems nothing close to where one belongs, it’s a spiritual call and yearning need that makes one cling to one place rather than the other.

Marriage reflects the intriguing sense of settlement. When a man marries and settles in a place it signifies where he felt complete, where he felt home.

Jake naturally settled in Pandora inspite of what he originally came with, an intent plan to get those people out of their homeland. And despite the huge difference and what we now call “cultural gap” that should expectedly stand between him and Neytiri, the two, as inherently understood, got married, for it’s where Jake felt spiritually fulfilled, centered, and thus, completed the missing part of his circle of being… He related so much to the Navi people and developed a sense of belonging he never tasted in his other world… And the fact that he was disabled in his other, supposedly original world symbolizes his inability to live his life to the fullest, in contrast to his life in Pandora, where he was empowered, cured, and gained exceptional power and confidence.

Avatar touches on the originality of our life, modern aches, failures, tribulations, and fake yet dominating laws.

It draws so much on the gist of love, its power, versus hate and what it brings to its bearer of destruction, dismay and entrapment…

It also highlights the significance of unity and what it can do… It’s only when the Navi people were harnessed into one main force, were they able to beat the RDAs and save their land.

The film speaks our current thoughts and magnifies human fears and aspirations alike…

  • Universal Facet

It’s indeed more than a movie; it’s explicitly a visual reflection of a human mind that’s been closely watching the evolution of human race and what comes along of reflections, enlightenment, and consciousness of the very big notion of “Life” with all of its aspect- And one major conclusion interpreting the essence and the veracity of many elements all entwined under the massive meaning of “Life”..

The movie underlined the good and the bad, religion, human power, human will, love, greed, and the spiritual bond that once established with any work or object gives humans ultimate power and full control.

And not just that, it sends a crucial lesson: that enacting the human mind always brings wonders and can bring forth unexpected shifts, but enlightenment never comes except with the connection of both the mind and the soul- the linkage between the feeling with the thought completes the vision, and this is how Jake underwent a captivating journey of change that took him across varying fields of truths and made him at the end of his mission, changing allegiance.

It also highlights the universal theme of a journey, and what it can do, changing the journeying person inside out, changing or actually shifting his allegiance, his faith, and belief, exactly like what happened to Jake, he started as fighting against the Navis, and ended up protecting them, fighting against the side he was initially representing for the sake of those he came to war.

  • Artistic Value

The 3D chartbuster has set new standards for movie making and movie watching, much like Titanic did more than 10 years ago, but, in my view, it’s far more revolutionary and has far more impactful, sensitive, and extremely controversial connotations than did Titanic, dealing with more of a Universal aspect, touching greatly on the essence of our life, race, originality of our being and not just our romance vivaciousness.

Avatar, a breakthrough in many of its inspirations, won global attention several months prior to its release, sending reputed reviewers equally curious and anxious, to the extent of having daily reviews in the world’s most popular newspapers and internet sites, up till its anticipated first show.

I cannot remember any movie that captured such  global attention whether before or upon its release, regardless of whatever marketing campaign planned for it…

It is, instinctively, a movie for all ages…

Maha Youssuf

ALL · MOST VIEWED

Time-Tested Tips for Hikers

Hiking is a good reward you may want to give to your soul, but it’s also tough and sometimes challenging if not to some extent dangerous. This post is meant to provide some practical tips to make your hiking trip as enjoyable and safe as you wish it to be- with some guidelines related to preserving the mountains ecosystem and natural beauty.

Bear in mind that the following tips are basically associated with hiking terrains in Egypt in general, and the Graceful mountainous region and natural protectorate of St. Katherine in particular.

i) Hiking Tips

– During your hiking trip you’ve got to stick to the Trail and avoid shortcuts, otherwise you may lose your way.

– Never attempt to wander off on your own, stick to your team and keep the footpaths.

– Try not to look behind while walking, it may cause you to slip and get hurt.

– Try as much as you can not to use the Walkie- talkie for unnecessary chats. (You may need walkies only if you’re hiking with a large group and you have leaders’ assigned to handle sub-groups of hikers- only then you may need to communicate with those leaders every now and then)

– Avoid loud voice; it disturbs the prevailing serenity of the place.

– Carefully watch your footsteps, pay strict attention to where you place your foot and make sure your first foot is stable before you get the second one completing the step.

– Do not litter.

– Do not drink from any wells, sometimes water is not treated for human use. You may consult a Bedouin guide first or the leader.

– Keep a trash bag with you or any of your group members.

– Keep in mind that all mountains and valleys are non-smoking areas.

ii) Health Tips for Hikers

To have a safe and enjoyable hiking experience, please take the following few tips into consideration:

– One of the most irritating setbacks that may water down your joy during the hike is sunburns, so make sure you apply a considerable amount of quality sun-block cream, and renew it by applying a new layer every 2 to 3 hours.

– Avoid foot blisters, for they can ruin your hike entirely. So make sure your hiking shoes is at least one size bigger and wear thick socks. Tight shoes can bang your foot fronts and thus nails to its walls while descending steep ramps, leaving your foot in miserable condition.

– Watch high grasses through your hike, some are harmful to the skin, and some may have spines that can cause some injuries.

– Take the first 15 to 20 minutes of the hike as slowly as you can and practice deep rhythmic breathing until your breath starts picking up, this shall warm you up and raise your endurance.

– Do some stretching exercises for at least 5 minutes before you start your hike.

– Pay a strict attention to breakfast, morning meal is your first and most needed source of energy through the hike.

– Devote at least 5 minutes every two hours during your hike for stretching your muscles while they’re warm.

– Drink enough water to keep your body well hydrated. By the end of your day-long hike, you should have consumed between from 1.5 to 2 liters of water.

iii) Environmental Tips:

In order to help preserve the ecosystem and natural cleanness in the mountains you’re hiking through; please bear the following in mind.

– Don’t pollute water with food wastes of any sorts even if liquid leftovers.

– Try to use eco-toilettes, some spots are assigned for that particular purpose, if you missed the chance to use them, then natural toilette spots of your choice should be at least 100 meters away from water resources.

– Burn your toilette papers after burying them along with your bodily wastes. (Be careful while doing so and make sure fire doesn’t reach plants)

– Empty tins and water bottles can be squeezed to facilitate carrying them in your a trash bag.

– Leave no wastes or food leftovers behind.

– Don’t mess with plants, birds, or animals that happen to exist in the protectorate, this includes any attempt to uproot plants, disturb animals, or hunting (Law 102 of 1983 prohibits any of these acts).

– Don’t attempt to eat fruits planted in Bedouins’ Orchards, such trees are considered private property, the sanctity of which shouldn’t be traversed.

– Don’t draw on stone boulders.

– As a show of appreciation for the Bedouin community, please bear the following in mind:

1. Do not attempt to photograph local Bedouins without asking their permission, especially women.
2. Bedouin women are shy by nature, so men should thankfully stay away from attempting to chat with them.
3. Buying Bedouin crafts stands as an essential support to their incomes.

iv) Hiking terrains in Sinai are usually:

– Rocky
– Flat terrains
– Slippery slopes
– Steep ramps
– And sometimes the Trail is not clearly engraved (especially when its not very popular and doesn’t get regular visits), and that’s why you have to stick to the leader and your group so as to not risk losing your way.
– Over and above all beautiful and exotic sceneries.

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”


By Maha Youssuf
First published on Sahara Safaris Website

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Dead-End or a Turning Point? We Trigger our New Starts!

information-boards-105193_1920There may be times in our lives when we face intriguing hurdles that keep us glum, sullen and shackled with assumptions on how to pave our way to some better destiny. One should heed at such moments that the path being pursued is no more suitable and accept the fact that time for a drastic change Has Come.

Logic dictates that when it gets dim, one should seek light and let it guide him/her, it’s when intuition, once silenced, take the lead and direct you to what your true being is striving for.

Relationships, career life, friendship, family, and all other areas of human commitments, fulfillment and possible sources of joy, at some point in our lives can turn to be sources of despondency or at least a reason why we cannot carry on…

Such abrupt realization, when heeded carefully you’ll come to grasp that it’s anything but a dead end, anything but your life reaching a deadlock, as a matter of fact it’s an invitation to start all over again, what seems to be a blockage and source of agitation is rather an alarm that we should seek new beginnings.

Now having had the trigger of a new start spurred and on the ball, know that a brand new life prospect is ahead of you, a new beginning, a new sensation, and definitely a new you.

It’s generally acknowledged that a problem is half solved once identified… so here comes the hard work of your mind and soul together.

A curt move is not recommended… What you need to do is to sit, rethink your life, try and detect where the blockage lies and pinpoint the core of your aches.

Step One; try to comprehend what’s standing in your way of feeling content and satisfied, is it a sense of guilt, is it absence of love, career failure, unsatisfying relationship, family hurdles… Is it an unresolved conflict with yourself, a bad memory of an incident that took place in a particular phase of your life and you cannot get over it, or is it any other issue or more than one of daily life concerns?

This is one task you have before you get to move on- i.e. Identifying the source of your discomfort…

Then comes a true intention to change this state of distress supported by an intent desire to please yourself and live a better life, a recovered one that’s turning over an unpleasant chapter in the book of your life history.

You should get yourself commit to your desire to abandon your comfort zone, let it be a non-fulfilling career, weight problems, an abusive relationship, a silly routine or whatever, and just Jump off the Cliff.

This may not be as easy as it sounds, because it requires a true sense of being, keenness to pour some happiness into your life, and above all it needs you to love yourself, otherwise any effort you’re braced for may prove futile.

To start a new chapter of your book of life you’ve got to put a closure the chapter preceding it, get over its impacts, memory and unfinished or lose ends. Crack unresolved conflicts, face up to any snag that kept burdening a weak you, simply because you never gathered the courage to confront it.

So never downplay your power, the power to seek and find. And Faith Faith Faith is your pungent mean.

Having fulfilled the two steps mentioned above, let’s go to step number three…

Jot down the areas of enhancement in your life, but make sure you group your troubles into main general headlines covering them according to their relevance, such as Work, Family, Love, Relationships… etc

Putting a lengthy list of troubles won’t help but may itself be depressing and hamper any possible chance for change.

Having relaxed, boosted your self-confidence, and belief in a possible better life has already watered down any remnants of negativity you’ve been feeding yourself, with will help you tap into a more creative mind of you that will definitely identify solutions of unresolved past and living tensions.

You might be living an existing problem… This shouldn’t hinder your will to change, think back to those times when you once lived bad moments and remind yourself of how such memories passed and faded away, think of the present problem you’re living as a cloud that will pass away after a while, probably after you’ve heeded the lesson meant for you to learn.

At this stage you may pause for a while before proceeding with the process of rising up from where you are, ascending your way up the leader of self actualization that’s dependant on enacting a change you sought and are intend to fulfill.

 Why pause? 

For one to save your mental energy for fulfilling your premium goal of enacting the change you’ve planned for. Also to use the time in supporting your intention and that positive energy channeling you the minute you decided to go for a new start…

Remind yourself of things you should be grateful for, health, mental ability, or at least the privilege of reaching such moment of truth of facing your need for a new start.

Given the undoubted power of visual impact, try to visualize yourself in this new state your working to implement, such as a more fit you if you suffer weight problems, having your dream job or being with the person you love, this is not passive wishful thinking but rather a positive way of seeing yourself where you want to be, this will get you commit and put up with the difficulties that you might face in order to fulfill the change you’re eyeing.

Likewise, forgiveness… Forgiveness is a major powerful tool that sets your heart free of any contaminating qualities that burdens your free soul and keeps you from seeking new horizons.

Also you should read self-help books, they’re influential guides filled with knowledge.

Give yourself a good treat, let it be a few visits to spas or a heath club, cozy trip, dinner with a close friend or whatever that rejuvenates your sense of existence and reconnects you with your inner self and the fragile being inside you that’s your soul.

Place yourself among people who pour out positivity instead of sucking your own share of positive energy by constant complaints, criticism, backbiting, worries and the like of various sorts of infectious mental and spiritual ills.

Also doing some meditation or yoga would be a great help to calm down and delve deeply into more positive calls inside yourself.

Now that you’ve faced the true sources of mental, spiritual, and social aches, in all of their forms, magnitude and circumstances, accepted your need for a change and to put an end to living with half spirit, boosted your intent to embark on an journey of change, and equipped yourself with the needed relaxation, knowledge and energy well-needed for your mission, you’re absolutely ready for Implementation.

Last but not least, have an upper goal in life, a reason for living, some higher end you seek to reach, this will pull you up whenever faced by a setback.

 Now start over Fresh and Light and let the New Year Eve, a date not a reason for endorsing a brand new You and a brand new Life.

maha.
First published this month in Euphoria Magazine 

ALL · MEDITATION · MOST VIEWED · SELF HELP

Gemstones: Tote Up & Explore More of Life Bliss

precious-1432335_640.jpgThe need to equilibrium our desires with our potentials; thus healing all sorts of our spiritual aches has never been more intriguing than nowadays.

Here lies the power and merits of Gemstones, the healing impacts of which stretch to cover all kinds of boosters and healing specs of whatever types of spiritual aches, personal drawbacks, as well as life complexities- with their varying imperatives.

Gems, pebbles of varying shapes and sizes, are mostly minerals, some of which are quite popular while others are only well known among those who trade them as well as energy healers and those who deal with alternative medicines.

While some may value particular gemstones for their looks and colors, their spiritual impacts and energy stimulations remain the core value that renders them essential at varying extents, depending on your need of them.
Among these stones:

Agate;
Almost similar to Quartz in composition and physical properties, Agate is said to be a stone of new beginnings- a stone that helps refreshing the soul, helping you in new challenges and the toughest of them all, for it renews your potential and wards off whatever blockage in the flow of energy that strengthens you soul. Its color is a mixture of green, blue, brown, red, and yellow.

Amazonite;
A blue, green stone that is said to open the heart Chakra allowing in love and related emotions. It also fixes one at his center that is to say, regain well-needed balances and absorbing stresses in all its forms, and that’s why it’s believed to facilitate communication.

Amethyst;
A purple shaded stone is known for its powerful spiritual vibration that makes it a great healer and cleanser of soul, body and mind, stimulating the three. It’s a good shield against negative energy.

Aquamarine;
The famous blue stone with the beautiful waves’ colors varying between blue and green, is known as a good source of courage and tranquility, also a good trigger of positive emotions such as trust and sympathy.

Bloodstone;
Known as The Warrior Stone and consists of Quartz grains, with reddish and yellowish taints.  Bloodstone is a rich source of mystical and spiritual powers that absorb one’s feelings of fear and spiritual disorders.

Calcite;
A multi-colored crystal, sometimes blue, green, red, mangano, yellow, pink and orange, others Carnelian and White, Calcite is known as a catalyst of energy and effectiveness in whichever area of one’s life. Also a good booster of one’s psychic protection, Calcite is usually used in meditation as it helps connecting one’s spiritual being to his intelligence, creating emotional and spiritual intelligence.

Citrine;
Is known to be a potential soul cleanser that rejuvenates the flow of positive energy and eliminates any possible blockage, and that’s why it’s said to be also a very good energizer and a great booster of psychic power. Citrine is also known as a good protector against negative energy and thus can shield you against other’s spiritual abuse. It takes different colors varying between pure yellow to brownish yellow and light gold

Diamond;
Not just a beautiful stone pursued by all ladies seeking its mesmerizing look, it’s also a good energizer of love and all related emotions, and that’s why it’s said to be a good booster of love relationships and marriage. Also it’s whitish transparent color is a symbol of purity and innocence.

Emerald;
Is a semi transparent green stone that instills emotional, mental and spiritual balance. It’s also known as a good booster of recovery from many illnesses. It helps curing rheumatism, diabetes. It’s also said to be a powerful antidote to poison, and improves vision.

Garnet;
Gives a good boost to confidence, particularly self-confidence, and a powerful protector against negativity and all related weaknesses. Garnet is also said to be a good cleanser of Chakras, and thus a strong energizer. It’s also believed to be a good alarm against approaching dangers. It has various colors: Brown, red, orange, yellow, green, pink, and black.

Moonstone;
Is yellowish, white, creamy stone, with varying shades and sometimes blue and green tints. Moonstone is said to instill harmony between relationships. It’s also known as the stone of good beginnings.

Sapphire;
Is known as a good absorber of tension and stress and thus helps instilling spiritual calmness. It’s also known as the wisdom stone. Its colors are: Blue, green, black, purple, and yellow.

Quartz;
A rich stone that takes various shapes and colors, each color carries special benefits; For Example Blue Quartz helps clearing the mind. Pink Quartz helps receiving and triggering emotions of love and thus is associated with all works of the heart. And Snow or White Quartz helps you go beyond your limitations and combat the feelings of fear and being burdened.

Turquoise;
The famous blue greenish stone is also known to be as a purifying stone and a powerful enhancer of friendships. Turquoise also enhances the body’s physical and psychic immune system, and a good anti-depressant as it fights mood swings and instills spiritual calmness, the lack of which cases all sorts of depression with varying levels of severity.

Unakite;
Is believed to be a good soul cleanser and balancer that also helps in recovering from major illnesses.

  • Birthstones

Birthstones are gemstones associated with each of the year’s 12 months, according to the height of their healing powers, based on the belief that gemstones, whether precious or semi precious, attain their healing powers from cosmic energies absorbed from various planets the power of which, reaches the peak at a particular times of the year.

The tradition of wearing the gemstone associated with the month you’re born in seeking luck, goes back to the 1st century CE, and was first adopted in Poland during the 18th century.

Here’s a list of the 12 months’ birthstones as they are commonly acknowledged:

Month It’s Birthstone
January Garnet
February Amethyst
March Aquamarine and Bloodstone
April Diamond and White Sapphire
May Emerald
June Pearl and Moonstone
July Ruby
August Peridot
September Sapphire
October Opal, Tourmaline, and Pink Sapphire
November Topaz and Citrine
December Turquoise
  • Shapes

While a great portion of gemstones beauty value lies in their colors, their shapes and cuts play a central role in their brilliant looks.

Pointed, cone-shaped, rounded, multi-layered, and bubbly, gemstones come in various shapes and contours with different spiritual inferences and a variety of powers, but the most common shapes are: The Square Shape, The Pyramid Shape, The Egg Shape, The Natural Point, Clusters, Geode, The Ball Shape, Vogel-Type Wand, Elestial, Manifestation, Large and Reversed Scepter, Time Link, and Diamond Window.

The cutting technique also can add or water down their values and their credited impacts alike.

  • Gemstones and Crystal Healing

Given their widely acknowledged and recognized powers, Gemstones are used as a source of medication, harnessing their potential in a watchable and pursued way.

Presently, they are used in very unique conventional and alternative healing practices that use such gems to evoke certain sources of energy in various areas of the body, basically by placing them on the body’s different chakra centers (energy centers), in a way that catalyses the flow of particular energy, directing it in a way that would balance the patient’s entire spiritual being and addresses, equally, physical and mental aches.

Chakras, or energy centers in the body are in general associated with colors that represent the stones, or the Crystals that evoke that particular type of energy.

The First Chakra, sometimes referred to as the Root Chakra, and represented by the color Red, is positioned at the base of the spine. Being situated at the center of the organs in this particular area of the body made it responsible for the basic human survival functions.

The Second Chakra, represented by the Orange Color is positioned slightly below belly button, and connected to the sexual organs, the reproductive system and thus relates to the sexual needs and wants.

The Third Chakra, sometimes referred to as the Yellow Chakra is located at the center of the Abdomen and sometimes called the Solar Plexus Chakra. It represents the body’s center of determination and will.

The Fourth Chakra, represented by the color Green and located near the heart position is, as its position may imply, responsible for the feelings of love and compassion.

The Fifth Chakra, lying right at the throat, is the center of creativity and is represented by the blue color, and thus is sometimes referred to as the Blue Chakra.

The Sixth Chakra, positioned at the third eye is more connected to the mind work and self- awareness and referred to as the Violet Chakra.

The Seventh Chakra is The Crown Chakra- located at the top of the head, and represents wisdom. It’s associated with the white color. Some, however, link it to Violet , but it’s widely recognized as associate it with White.

Wearing the particular gemstones meant for the healing case can also practice Crystal healing. They can also be placed in bed, put in a person’s bath or clothes in a way that would grant permanent attachment to the patient, or the person seeking certain cure.

Now even after listing all possible benefits gemstones represent and elucidating many of their secrets and mysteries, the belief in their powers remains a choice, a concept you may wish or refuse to endorse, all depending on many factors all engaged in the personal make up of individuals, with all their diversities and dissimilarities.

Like any other conventional practice or New Age concepts and beliefs, the sways of gemstones remain trapped between true believers in their impacts and those who deem them “just beautiful jewels”.

maha.
I first published it in Euphoria Magazine…

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Tips into Becoming a Winning Employee

The responsibility that befalls someone having decided to become a member of some organization or a corporate is a substitute to that has he had the chance to run his own business with some differences all related to revenues and the like. In other words what one may aspire to fulfill through his own business -that in terms of success and input- can be reflected in the job he’s assigned for as a member of somebody else’s firm.

This comes after choosing the right entity where you find yourself fitting well, within its values, business, mindset, and above all being in a position you truly believe to can add to.

A confident employee is never shy to ask, even if he happens to hold a senior position. Asking saves the pain of committing mistakes and wasting time, and getting the job done fast and efficiently.

Also a good employee benefits from criticism, of course when it comes from the right channel. He actually acts upon what may be his mistakes or drawbacks and rise stronger.

Also each employee speaks his own mind and reflects his integrity through his work, so the quality he delivers and how he handles the tasks assigned to him tells a lot about him, making his job a mirror reflecting his own persona, and this tells a lot about how delivery quality work is crucial to each employee.

Then comes communication and being an impacting team member, regardless of what position you may uphold.

To become a successful employee, one may need to develop unique communication skills to deal with all organization members of all levels.

Having been in the position of being published and communicating with various types of readers of a variety of cultures, I came to value the power of communication and connecting to people’s minds to get them engaged or impact them in one way or another, whether getting them believe in what you’re trying to sell through your words, or clearing up what may be boggling them.

Impacting minds and having a positive presence had always a pragmatic privilege to, not just corporations and institutions, but also governments, volunteer work, and all sorts of organizations with their all time varying scopes, visions and objectives.

A close knit of satisfied and synergetic team with transparency, trust and cooperation displayed as it should is what makes or brakes an organization- and this is a responsibility shared among all organization members of all levels, junior and senior alike. Embracing such spirit and developing by all employees tends to establish a two-way commitment, benefiting the organization and the employees alike, while asserting a respect-based employer- employee, something aspired by all institutions and individuals.

Likewise, enacting a pleasant and warm atmosphere of pro-activeness had never been the work of just one employee but initiated and developed by each and every employee, with varying input. That’s why being engaged with peers, subordinates as well as supervisors is what makes an employee stand out as someone of key role and active presence that would benefit all…

Knowing that passion is infectious, and having practiced how it gets transmitted by communicating on a genuine level with people, I have found that connecting to people, particularly at work, brings myriads of benefits that had always returned to me 10 folds. It’s all about sharing.

Also caring for peers establishes an atmosphere f compassion and considerate attitude shared by all members which is usually translated into honest commitment to the organization, let alone dedication and strict attention to the quality of work delivered.

Inspiring people on the professional and the personal level had always been the magic band that equally helped me and those I worked with, making whichever challenges an organization may go through as enjoyable beyond expectation, notwithstanding the obstacles one may face.

Transparency remains no 1 on the list of advices of how to become a successful employee, or an employer actually. 

A good employee never worries about sharing knowledge, lest it put his/her position in jeopardy. In fact social media has proved that sharing the most intricate knowledge with others through whichever web tools, blogs, forums or web communities, doubles people’ benefit, advancing their knowledge and perception by exposing them to more than they may have read or came to learn.

Technically, reaching out to people through benefitting them gets them listen to you and this is when you can impact them and win their Trust- a keyword to business entities’ success.

Then comes competence. Surviving through bad times and obstacles makes one grow stronger and develop advanced skills.

Also following up on one’s own field of specialty is what makes him/her a good caliber, benefitting his/her career and the organization one may represent.

There would be times, when an individual would reconsider his presence in the organization he serves, but revisiting his decision is better done by evaluating the situation in light of what’s discussed above.

Developing comfort where one works, using all factors described and many more, is what sustains and develops an employee-employer relationship, in a way that benefits both parties. 

Maha Youssuf

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elGalt elAzrag: Another Encounter with St Katherine’s Grace

elGalt elAzrag

From one valley to another, one orchard to another, and one Farsh of another, our hiking adventure up to elGalt (a natural pool of refreshingly cold water), walked my group, and Mo, the hike leader, along a number of sceneries and quaint plateaus of mountains of equal grace and strongly felt divinity.

It was a rich hiking experience in every meaning of the word. We lived the lull of the valleys, breathed its tranquil air, and it’s there where we, sometimes, stopped for a brief meditation session. We filled the orchards that witnessed our camps and flare- up at night with warmness they may have lacked being not very regularly visited.

We departed Cairo Wednesday night in a convoy of 5 cars to arrive in St Katherine towards Fajr. The crowd quickly dispersed at Sheikh Mousa’s camp to seize two hours of sleep before waking up next morning as early as 6:30 am to start ascending our way up to ElGalt in two separate groups.

The trip, in its entirety, was arranged and led by Mo, but, on a later stage, was split into two groups of hikers, one led by Mo, and another led by Khairat.

At some stops, the two groups were able to meet up and reflect on their brief adventures, each describing the scenic spots the other is still to come across, until the final reunion down Sheikh Mousa’s camp Saturday noon.

As much as the trail was somewhat grueling and challenging at certain points, it was overly amiable and fun.

The journey to elGalt elAzrag (the black pool) took my hiking group to up to Wadi Abou Geefa, then Sharfet Abbas, Wadi Tenya, that witnessed our first night Camp, then Wadi Butweita and its stunning famous big boulders, to Farsh Umseila, before we started descending our way to elGalt itself where we rested for a relatively long while, may be a couple of hours; showering our heads with its cold water and dining next to the willow trees surrounding its banks.

Leaving elGalt, we ascended up Wadi Jball region again, visiting another set of beautiful Wadis that included: Wadi Toboug, then Zawatein (Hajja Amreya’s Orchard and resting spot), then Reheibet Nada which includes an open cemetery of unknown people, then elTal’a elKabira, descending all the way through Abu Geefa, down to Sheikh Mousa’s Camp

After first thanking God for granting us a safe and enjoyable trip, I must thank Mo for, not just dedicating time and effort to give us three days of sheer joy and spiritfull adventures, but for simply giving of himself, rewarded, in his own words, by our happiness and the thrill we all lived. In this trip, I felt Mo’s everlasting eagerness to communicate his experience at its best, not withstanding his strong belief in what he started years ago, his interest and passion for Bedouins’ life and culture, the belief that greatly impacted his masters thesis, years of unique activities, and other initiatives that reflect this very same passion. A dream he lived to the fullest and now wishes to engage as many “believers” as possible…

A remarkable striking element in this trip was the diversity of its participants, whose ages ranged between late teens and fifties, of varying interests, different backgrounds and levels of hiking and fitness experience, but equally pleasant presence and placidness

On another note, the trip added to, not just my knowledge about St Katherine’s plants and mountain valleys, but also my obsession with this serene and genuine place that fixes my roots in life, reminding me of its essence and clearing my clue of how to live it and what I plan ahead…

The trip was inspirational, of an eternal impact on all levels, a rousing unforgettable journey into a gorgeous spot in Katrina Mountains, one that’s appreciated even by the Bedouins, the original inhabitants of the region, who’ve supposedly seen it and visited it many times but still hugely value its beauty and appreciate its exquisiteness; like foreign tourists.

A greatly memorable trip and full hiking experience it was.

Can’t wait for the next time I shall breath the herbal-felt air of St Katherine.

Maha Youssuf
– First appeared on Sahara Safaris’ Web Forums

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Desert Life Vs Modernity


Over the past two years of my life, the most intricate life decisions I took effortlessly- let alone effectively- while being amongst nature, whether it be in the desert or on top of the graceful mountains of St Catherine.  This can tell you how empowered one becomes when embraced by nature.

Coming to the desert.. Every time I drive through the desert marked indeed a new beginning in my life.

Every time I went off-road I learned something new about myself and about life in general. Probably because the desert sets you free of the city shackles and feeling such freedom when all such massive space is your home for a night or two, can indeed do a lot to your soul, let alone eliminating mental burdens.

My message might not offer much practicality, but what I’m communicating here is a set of tested conceptions and facts of life I was confronted with just by going to the desert and driving on the golden sands. Being to the desert highlights one’s potential and limitations alike. It confronts you with the neglected true nature of yourself, by listening to that fragile yet persisting voice inside you, the guiding light that usually goes unrecognized.

Driving in the desert requires some level of dare and that it triggers inside you, and it also reminds you of your limitations seeing a creation that’s so much bigger than yourself, that is the Sand Dune. A massive being that’s bigger than you and is not the work of your hand, mind or talent. It’s created by Allah (SWT) pretty much the same as you are created by Allah.

In the desert you are more in touch with the nature of yourself.

And by nature here I mean the original human “Fitra” that we profusely keep hidden under piles of invented modern considerations, greatly imposed by the incredible fast pace of life, and that which replaced the most significant human traits God created in us with newly acquired, less needed and somewhat counterfeit ones which our modern life fed us. This “Fitra” when taking the lead drives us through the most commanding challenges of our lives. In the desert we sort of enact this “Fitra”, we live nature and let it stir such “Fitra” in us, for this is the only rule that works there, experiencing fear, adn wisely reacting to it, desiring risk and slowly going for it by driving in a no-man land and through unusual terrains that involve crossing sand dunes.

It’s in the spacious desert that I came to understand what my person is made of, and I mean the physical, spiritual and mental being, the three dimensions of human beings.

One persisting thought strikes me whenever we stop to deflate the tires before driving over what we know to be squashy sands; we’re actually coaching the cars, or more precisely the tires, to be less stubborn with the sands, less resistible and less hard in order to ride well. We Deflate them to be more tender and submissive to the will of the sands and that’s how driving becomes less problematic and we don’t get “stuck”. Going against the desire of nature never renders good result, it’s like swimming against the tide.

Applying the same rule to my normal daily life has proved equally effective.

During my early drives in the desert I used to tighten my grip over the driving wheel, mistakenly believing that this will give me better control over the car. But the more I went to the desert and the more I listened to the instructions, I came to realize that a gentle yet attentive hold of the steering actually provides better handling of the car.

Likely trying to submit time, the natural flow of your day or anything that’s driven by the force of nature does you no good, leaving you tired and frustrated, while going smoothly about everything in life gets you just where you want.

Let me explain more… Many of us write their daily To-Do’s list, and I do the same. But in the past I used to start my day with a strict intention to follow a rigid schedule to fulfill all my tasks, which always put me under unnecessary stress that was usually crowned with utter frustration at the fact that I didn’t fulfill the full list, which I only heed at the end of the day.

Going about anything by force never works, pushing too much doesn’t necessarily mean more power… and this lesson was first learned in the desert and driving in the desert. Now I start my day, still with a To-Do’s list, but also with readiness to listen to the “will” of the day and its natural flow, looking forward to what it plans to bring for me, with some order still in place, but without strict deadlines, and I do achieve a lot more.

Such realization was even magnified when crossing the Sand Dunes. Deciding to cross a Sand Dune, one gathers his skill, dare, confidence and concentration while being “Submissive” to the “Will” of the Sand Dune to be able to pass through it. You gather your power, drive all the way up the Sand Dune and you stop to understand its “nature” which will guide you how your journey down its other side should be, its “nature” and “will” guides you and drives you safely back down.

You stop “respectfully” at the might power of the Dune to listen to what it shall tell you about your way downward. You reach the top and stop to assess the nature and comprehend the situation, a good lesson of decision making and tactfulness you pay to professional instructors in the city to teach you in planned training courses.

But in the desert the platform is set for you to learn an assortment of life lessons. And you cling to these lessons for the rest of your life.

But then again we’ll always appreciate modern technology, without which we wouldn’t have been able to go to the deserts unless we decide to ride camels, without GPS’s to guide us there- GPS’s that make a visit to the desert a handy weekend trip. So we should appreciate technology but embrace Nature.

May be I’m still affected by the spark of the euphoric experience I had in my last trip (on the new year night) to the picturesque Qaret Al Shura, my first time ever in that graceful place. What was so unique about this off-roading trip I know not, may be it’s the chemistry of the place, the timing, may be it’s my true intention to set the new year eve as a trigger of a new start in my life, or may be because it was the fist time to do meditation in the desert…

A lot of may be’s, but what I truly believe is that I “decided” to receive what this spot of nature had to offer me, that’s why I lived the experience to the fullest and got the best out of it.

It’s in the crowd of the city that I feel isolated whereas in the void of the deserts that I feel contained.

Maha Youssuf
Reflections I first communicated through Sahara Safaris

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Hiking through the Secret Gardens- Summer 2009

Hiking through Katrina Valleys- Summer 2009

These words were first addressed to my fellow safarsits in Sahara Safaris Community in an attempt to share with them my personal reflections on my hiking trip through beautiful valleys in St. Katherine, a trip that kicked start the long-awaited Hiking Season of 2009.

Under the auspices of Mohamed Mabrouk, the leader and founder of Sahara Safaris Organisation, and accompanied by some 18 people, we took off to Saint Catherine one Thursday night in April 2009, arriving there by around 4 am, and spending the night at Sheikh Mousa’s Camp.

We woke up next day as early as 7 in the morning to start our hike, in two separated groups, through Wadi Jbaal and other valleys and Orchards, called the Secret Gardens, for the beautiful and rare plants they have, in the beautiful mountainous region of Saint Catherine.

Katrina was as beautiful and graceful as I had known it during the number of visits I was privileged to have there. A place filled with spiritual vigor that makes departing it not as simple as any leave-taking of any other place you happen to trip to.

One group was led by Mabrouk, and was actually lucky enough to get a glimpse of his wealth of knowledge about the region, the plants sprouting there, among a variety of natural characteristics of the place. Another group was put at the very safe, caring, & enjoyable leadership of Amr Kamel, and had a plenty of fun that drew a big smile on its members’ faces they descended- as if they haven’t done any effort whatsoever.

In the evening the two groups were reunited in the orchard that witnessed our hilarious chats, blizzard of laughs, as well as the colorful camp we set up that night.

Saturday morning, we woke up, had our tasty and healthy breakfast, continued the laughing match we started the previous night, and bid Amreyya, the owner of the orchard farewell, to split again into two groups, going on different hiking routs down to Sheikh Mousa camp, where we dined, laughed again, and were lectured by Mohamed Mabrouk in a very interesting orientation session about the potential project of Sheikh Sina, aimed at serving the Bedouins Community in the region while attracting the world tourism industry to the highly aesthetic region of Sinai. Originally funded by the European Union, the project, already up and running, is expected to draw a variety of highly talented and experienced calibers from within and outside Sahara Safaris.

Around 4 pm, we prepared our cars and set off to Cairo.

The prime elements that made the trip a success were many among which I shall list a few…

As for the discern place of Saint Catherine, it’s a God-given gift, and what adds to its very much felt holiness and spiritual value, as suggested by Mabrouk during our talks, is probably the number of Holy people and Prophets who graced it with their presence and visits. And above everything, it was on top of Saint Catherine’s Mountains that Allah (SWT) manifested to one of his prophets; Prophet Moses (PBUH).

Coming to the leadership, it’s not new of Mohamed Mabrouk to orchestrate a successful, highly disciplined yet enjoyable trip, whether on top of the mountains or at the heart of the deserts.

But an addition to successful leadership was Amr Kamel, a judge, who put more joy to the trip by his warm presence and spontaneous willingness to provide help in all its forms, verbal and physical, whenever and however. I have known Amr as an exceptionally helpful passenger with great company, but seeing him leading a group of us on top of the mountains, giving people’s varying level of fitness and experiences with hiking, handling them so perfectly well was innovative.

Coming to my humble self and my passion for hiking in general and the graceful region of Saint Catherine, something many fellow Safarists have already reckoned having accompanied me on occasional hikes- What can I say… my passion is growing and is indeed taking different dimensions.

Now I have to bring into light a personality I plan to research about and explore to the maximum… Sheikh Mousa- whose serious look and somber charisma did not hide his truly kind and caring nature that manifests patently clear when he speaks of his people and the Bedouin’s community, talking of their needs and difficulties facing their rough life. Now Eid, the guide who accompanied my group… He is really something. The man is extraordinarily tranquil and quite, yet he has a very cheerful and inspirational smile. He doesn’t speak unless asked, but when he does, you should expect an ocean of knowledge.

I must also tell you about a very interesting personality that accompanied us, Mareike, a German lady who embarked voluntarily and quietly during the course of the trip, on a mountain cleanup initiative, encouraging others to do the same, to have, by the end of the hike, two massive garbage bags, full of wastes that were scattered across the valley we hiked through, spoiling much of its beauty.

During this trip I was accompanied by many new and old faces, most of whom I easily connected with, which encountered me with different sides of human nature. I was introduced to new personalities and had the chance to rediscover those I’d known from before. This trip was another rich experience that added to my perception of life, humans, and, on another much deeper level… myself.

Maha Youssuf

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Surviving our Way through the Financial Crisis

The economic recession, crisis, or you may call it whatever you wish, has been carving its way through the entirety of the world nations, and we all saw it coming, but for some unexplained reason, none was the least ready for to face it, let alone believe its flames could fire-up outside the mighty economy of the United States of America. 

Now we’re faced with the daunting reality. And although Americans were the first to bear the brunt of such crisis, they were the most practical in dealing with it, enacting workable measures to lessen its negative impact on whichever social standards and all sorts of economies, of course with varying levels of efficiency, at a time other nations remained in denial in the hope that the crisis could get contained before it arrives in, but Alas.

The flames have indeed spread, swallowing many of the world nations, and as expected, developing nations, even though they weren’t the trigger of the crisis, were the worst hit, given their already fragile economy.

But the shortcomings of reacting passively to such recession show everywhere. Multi nationals shutting down, mega stores, international banks- closures and downsizing is reported across the globe, and individuals are facing increasing troubles dealing with the situation and adapting to it, in a way that would sustain their lives, even bank loans are proving inefficient.

But that’s not all.

Layoffs are making the situation more nightmarish, and you cannot blame business entities, after all they are not making money to pay the salaries.

No liquidity… leaving everybody, business entities and individuals, like a drowning victim searching, in vain, for a seashore as a last hope for life.

Then what’s the way out?

I shall be staging here a few survival tips that would help individuals in general, and my nation in particular, face this economic battle with the least bruises possible.

Don’t expect howver that you’d be reading an economist view of the situation or professional analysis of teh recession and ways to deal with it.  These are just personal views of a normal citizen, that is my humble self, who has sort of a vision how to handle this situation.

1. Start up a small family project that would keep a steady, even if limited, flow of economy.

2. Avoid bank loans, they can prove to be your worst enemies at such an unpredictable economic phase, you’d be committing yourself to paybacks you might not be ready for later on.

3. Try to allocate secondary sources of income that would help flex your monthly budget, like a second job, may be part-time or freelancing.

4. Share whatever obstacles you face in meeting your financial obligations with your family and whoever who happen to be financially dependent on you

5. Cut your monthly expenses either by one or several ways of those I shall be listing below.

6. Return all your debts as soon as you can, it will elevate your financial burdens in the future as well as help those you owe them who must be also facing financial setbacks like you even if with varying levels.

7. Try to locate new stores that sell quality products, whether clothes, gadgets, food, or whatever, in relatively cheaper prices and stick to them. It will help you cut down your expenses, as well as encourage store owners discount their prices.

8. Watch your use of electricity, water, and Gas.

9. Try to apply car pooling among your friends. It saves time, money and effort among you as it strengthens ties as well.

10. Also try to group errands that happen to be in the same area and do them one day, instead of revisiting the same area several times to do different things.

11. And if you don’t have a car, try to check with the people you’re going to meet up with if any are coming from the same destination so that you can share one cab and split the fees- I shall leave this to your intelligence, knowing that this doesn’t necessarily work with all people in whatever situation.

12. Get rid of one or all of your credit cards, they’re a sneaky tool encouraging expenditure that you do not feel its drawbacks until the results fire back in your face.

13. Rest your financial priorities, getting rid or at least delay expenses that wouldn’t affect the basic sustenance of your life and your family’s. You may as well set inexpensive alternatives for what you think are unimportant expenses. For example you may organize movie nights among your friends wherein you can watch nice downloadable or DVD movies, going to the Cinema less regularly if you’re a big movie fan. As for music, I won’t encourage piracy, but instead I would suggest exchanging CD among your friends, which will enable both of you enjoy a variety of music without having to buy all musical albums. Also you may join a book club, exchanging books instead of buying lots of them. Buying used books, in most cases they’re in very good conditions and are offered for a fraction of their original prices.

14. Join or launch an online forum discussing all matters related to the financial crisis. You may also develop a support group where you and other members would meet up weekly to have sort of lectures of discussion sessions sharing economic and financial insights. You may also brainstorm ideas to earn more money and boost your monthly incomes. You can easily make it as enjoyable as a weekend outing with friends.

15. Giving comfort to your family and those who happen to be financially dependent upon you, assuring them you’d continue leading a controllable life with some changes will give you confidence.

16. Try to accept the limits of your monthly income and make the best out of it. Loans and debts are not what you need at such circumstances; we have no clue how long this recession shall last.

17. Make positive use of this recession period to strengthen family ties and friendship- arranging house visits and dish parties will definitely cost less than going out, while bringing you closer to your loved ones and relatives in warm gatherings that you can have as regular as you want.

18. Another positive impact the recession may prove to have is fighting your unnecessary shopaholic cravings.

19. However don’t make your financial difficulties affect your relations and the way you show people care. Do not stop surprising people with nice gifts and BD presents. However, going simple may be a good alternative. Buying them thoughtful but simple presents will do. And trying hand-made crafts will make them even happier.

20. Make sure you don’t get overwhelmed with the sad experiences others may have faced because of the recession; you might not be so badly hit if you were smart and wise enough to handle the situation in accordance with your budget and income limits. Seeing others collapsing doesn’t mean the same will happen to you.

Maha Youssuf